US stocks gain on firm economic data

US stocks closed higher Friday, with the S&P 500 hitting its highest level in five years, helped by a steady December jobs report and a surprise improvement in a key index for the service sector.

The December job creation numbers came in at a modest 155,000, not enough to spark great optimism but showing strength given the unsteady political policy climate of recent months.

In addition the latest ISM index on the service sector showed unexpected growth in December, the fastest in 10 months, led by new orders and employment.

That helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average finish up 43.85 points (0.33 percent) at 13,435.21.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 7.10 points (0.49 percent) to 1,466.47, its highest close since December 31, 2007.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite inched up just 1.09 (0.04 percent) to 3,101.66, held back by a 2.8 percent fall in Apple shares.

Investors showed mixed feelings about the jobs data -- the unemployment rate stayed stuck at 7.8 percent -- but it was seen as more positive than negative.

"While a 150,000-170,000 per month trend in payrolls is far from booming, it is strong enough over time to keep the unemployment rate moving down," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.

Google added 2.0 percent after US regulators ended Thursday a lengthy antitrust probe, saying there was not enough evidence to show the Internet giant manipulated its search results to harm its competitors.

Pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly jumped 3.7 percent after issuing a 2013 earnings forecast that exceeded expectations.

Research in Motion gained 4.2 percent as interest builds in its release at the end of this month of its new BlackBerry 10 technology.

Financial shares were strong, with Citigroup gaining 2.5 percent and Goldman Sachs 2.7 percent.

Oil rig operator Transocean leaped 5.3 percent, extending Thursday's gain after agreeing to pay the United States $1.4 billion for its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Major losers included Microsoft (-1.9 percent), apparel chain Lululemon Athletica (-4.2 percent) and Qualcomm (-1.5 percent).

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 1.91 percent from 1.86 percent late Thursday, while the 30-year increased to 3.11 percent from 3.07 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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